In 2020, 40% of American adults reported struggling with mental health or substance-use issues. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety results in an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. With so many workers grappling with their mental health, it’s more important than ever for employers to promote well-being in the workplace. Here’s how Xpedition supports mental health for our employees—and how other companies can do the same.
Normalize Talking about Mental Health in the Workplace
Gordon Gekko-style leaders who didn’t believe in showing weakness may have been idolized in the past, but today’s best leaders understand that vulnerability is strength. To retain the top talent and promote better mental health for your team, you have to be willing to lead by example. Instead of assuming that everyone is doing just fine, make it a priority to start an open dialogue with your team about mental health. By becoming more vulnerable, open, and candid yourself, you can pave the way for others to follow in your footsteps.
Let your team know that it’s okay to disclose mental health needs, and keep them informed about the types of accommodations and resources your company can provide. Unlike riding a bicycle, talking about mental health may not necessarily get easier with time, but it’s an essential part of ensuring your team’s well-being. By showing true vulnerability and being unafraid to discuss mental health in the workplace, you can create a culture where people are encouraged to ask for help when they need it.
Realize That Team Building is Not Enough
The pandemic exacerbated loneliness across the board in America, with 61% of young adults reporting serious loneliness and more than half of adults 50+ reporting social isolation. To help employees remain connected in the early days of the pandemic, Xpedition hosted virtual trivia nights, sent care packages, and even created a virtual DJ room. As our team has acclimated to working remotely, we’ve found new ways to stay connected—from introducing each other to our furry friends to sharing what we appreciate about our teammates. You can follow suit by encouraging your team to find meaningful ways to boost each other’s spirits.
However, it’s important to realize that your leadership team needs to do more than promote team being; they also need to be open about mental health. Encourage your C-suite team to regularly check in with their direct reports, both in team meetings and one-on-one interactions. By openly sharing their own experiences and emotions, they will create an open environment that everyone will feel comfortable participating in.
Encourage Regular Check-Ins
During the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Xpedition held optional virtual meetings for employees who wanted to process their emotions and experiences together. As much as we want to support our teams during big life moments, we also know it is vital to be there for them in everyday experiences as well. Champion your team in big and small moments alike through checking in with them regularly, being aware of their body language and unspoken cues, and creating an open door policy to discuss their needs.
Give Mental Health Days
At Xpedition, we’re big proponents of taking regular time off to rest and reset. This year, we gave all of our employees three mental health days that they can use as desired—whether that entails savoring a slice of chocolate cake, sunbathing at the beach, or simply unwinding at home. By giving annual mental health days in addition to sick days and PTO, you can encourage your employees to truly take the time they need to recharge—without having to use up vacation time.
Promote a Healthy Work/Life Balance
A 2021 Indeed survey found that 52% of workers are experiencing burnout. To help counteract this, allow flexibility in scheduling so employees can take some extra time off if they’ve been working long hours to complete high-priority projects. If possible, consider allowing flexibility in working hours so that employees can attend therapy appointments. At Xpedition, we allow employees to use minor sick time that doesn’t need to be made up later for regular therapy appointments so they don’t have to take an entire day of sick time. This makes it easier for employees to access the care they need. Encourage your employees to further unplug by blocking off their calendars for work/free time and refraining from work after hours and on the weekends.
Create a Companywide Survey to Gauge Well-Being
At various points throughout the year, Xpedition sends out anonymous surveys to gauge employee well-being. Getting this regular feedback helps promote a healthy work culture and ensures that peoples’ perspectives and opinions are being heard. By asking your team for individual insights about how to improve well-being in the workplace, you can help everyone stay engaged and build a better work environment.
Show Ongoing Support
As many Americans adjusted to working remotely during the pandemic, they faced new challenges—from working in a new location to homeschooling their kids. These unexpected occurrences highlighted how important it is for employers to provide ongoing support and resources. Remember that checking in with your team should not be a one-time thing or once-a-quarter task; it’s something to be mindful of on a daily basis. Commit to listening to and learning from your team’s needs so you can ensure they have the resources and support they need to continue to excel in their roles.
October 14, 2021